News / Africa

    Disabilities Prevent Aging Africans from Being Productive

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Kim Lewis
    Africa’s rapidly aging population is developing disabilities that limit their ability to be productive, according to a study conducted by researchers in the U.S. and Malawi.  It also found that women and men 45 years of age had severe limitations comparable to 80 year olds in the US. 

    Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania said the findings are significant as older people with functional limitations have difficulty performing work that is required in their agricultural settings.  If not addressed, the economic consequences could be devastating to the income of families whose livelihoods depend on food production. 

    Collin Payne, lead researcher  of the study, and graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, explained that the data that was used was based on the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health.  It’s an ongoing look at rural populations in Malawi conducted by the University of Pennsylvania.

    “What we’re measuring are different kinds of inabilities to perform daily life activities in this rural context-- so taking care of livestock, helping out on the farm, these types of activities.  We find that women at age 45 expect to spend about 60 percent of their remaining life unable to do some of these tasks.  For men, the figures are about 40 percent.  And as individuals age older and older, their remaining life that they can do some of these daily activities, it’s shorter and shorter,”  explained Payne.     

    While the study did not focus on any particular diseases that would have contributed to the rapid deterioration of physical abilities, Payne said the decline in their health could very well be attributed to a life time of hardship starting at birth.  

    “I think in large part, it is due to sort of this overall life-long burden of disability.  From birth to death there’s a lot of exposure to chronic, communicable and non-communicable diseases burdened with some periods of under-nutrition early in the life course. So by the time people are reaching their mid-forties and fifties, they’ve already experienced a lot of pressures on their health, and these are compounded later in the later life,” said Payne.    

    As a result, he said, there needs to be a revision of current national health policies and international donor funded health programs.

    The lead researcher noted, “I think in large part what could help individual health is a larger focus from individual countries in the region, larger non-governmental organizations, and other policy groups, to expand availability of basic health care services to this population.  It is a very underserved population.  It’s a population that is growing rapidly.  In 2010, the population over 45 years in sub-Saharan Africa was only 10 percent of the population.  U.N. projections say that by 2060 it’s going to be a quarter of the population.”     

    Dr. Hans Peter Kohler, another of the researchers of the study, agreed with Payne that most health interventions have focused on communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and other diseases like malaria. 

    However, Kohler said their study is significant in that it points out that there should more health care policies that focus on chronic illnesses and disabilities.

    “We know from other studies that pain is presumably a very big issue.  And so, what we are arguing here is that these disease patterns and the effect on the economic implications are not very well understood, but they’re very dramatic in the sense about how much they actually limit an individual’s abilities to work and perform day to day tasks,” explained Kohler.       

    The researchers of the study agreed that investing in the health of older men and women will also bring about improvements in the quality of their lives but also, boost economic growth for generations to come.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora